Finally after ten years, I am close to publishing the heart-rending and fast-paced biography of Lucy. Written in the spirit of Jean Auel, this is the paleo-historic saga of our earliest ancestors as lived through the eyes of a female Homo habilis.
Since Donald Johanson uncovered the tiny three-and-a-half foot clawless, flat-toothed Australopithecine, we have asked, Who is she? And how could she survive in a world of mammoth predators and unrelenting natural disasters she had no understanding about? This book answers those questions as well as more fundamental ones like, Where did God come from? Why did man create his first tool? How did culture start?
Here’s a summary:
Lucy: A Biography follows three species of early man (Australopithecus, Homo habilis and Homo erectus), as they fight for the limited resources of Pleistocene Africa. Lucy, of the species habilis, blames herself for the death of her family and agrees to mate with a stranger (Raza). As they journey to Raza’s homebase, they are tracked by two deadly predators: Xha, of the smarter and more powerful species Homo erectus, and the violent and unforgiving Nature, a sentient being who meddles with fate and Lucy’s future as though it were a chemistry experiment. The story is carefully researched to shared the geography, climate, and biosphere that would have been Lucy’s world 1.8 million years ago, when man was not King and nature ruled with a violence and dispassion we call ‘disaster’ today.
Every week, I’ll post part of this story.
A note: While I took Lucy’s name from the infamous Australopithecine skeleton discovered by Donald Johanson, Lucy is a Homo habilis. Her adopted child Boa is an Australopithecine.
Here’s Part 25:
Chapter 11–Part 1
Males and Females
Since it would not benefit the male in a Darwinian sense to provision a female unless he were sure she was producing his offspring, Lovejoy suggested that the first human species was monogamous…
Kee hunched forward in her corner of the campsite, oblivious to the returning hunters. This was her spot, hers alone. She’d cleared it of every root and stalk, raked it smooth and flat, and then pounded a sturdy stick the length of her arm and the thickness of her finger into the center. Here she sat, daily, watching the stick’s shadow. It moved perfectly, rhythmically, around its center like the petals of a flower. Like a crack in the ground—sometimes long, sometimes short, but always moving evenly until it returned to the beginning.
Every one of Kee’s days began and ended here. She outlined the twig’s gray shadow with her crooked finger and noted Sun’s position above. It was shortest on the hottest days, and longer as the air cooled, and almost disappeared when Sun was at the highest point of the invisible- mountains-in-the-sky. Some days it climbed far above the clouds. Other days, it crested only the lowest of the invisible mountain range. After watching many Suns, her old mind made connections that mystified others. She knew from watching her stick when the air would become colder or Night Sun would be bright enough for tracking, where new shoots and berries could be found and whether the next day would bring rain. No one knew how, but her words always came true.
Today, diaphanous threads wound around Sun’s face, as a spider’s web secures the leaves of a plant. She nodded as though she heard Sun’s voice.
“Kee…” Lucy emitted a soft pant-hoot of greeting, unwilling to interrupt.
Kee’s gaze remained on the translucent gossamer as it floated in the sky. She sniffed, inhaling Lucy’s aroma.
“You return with Oryx.” Kee’s body communicated pleasure. “And Ma-g’n’s pain herb.”
Before Lucy could respond, a growl made her stiffen in fear.
Kelda peered at Kee, but the elder seemed lost in her stupid stick. How could Kee accept Lucy-who-caused-trouble?
“Lucy-with-the-huge-eyes carries a baby of the Group. Why does she hunt?”
Kelda glared as Lucy talked first with Ahnda, and then Ma-g’n. She thought of Lucy in terms of her oddities. Lucy-with-eyes-like-dik-dik or Lucy-with-ears-like-small-headed-rat. Kelda had once admired Raza, hoped he’d make her his mate, but now even he nodded with approval at Lucy. Why did she not repulse him? Didn’t he realize she didn’t fit their band? If Raza’s first mate hadn’t disappeared, he would never have accepted Lucy.
Kelda smashed the hammerstone against a fibrous corm, splitting it open. She tilted back onto her haunches, bumping Falda and forcing her from the shadow of Lone-baobab into the still-searing heat. The soft cushion of esculents nourished in the shade of the beefy tree made this a favorite work place. There was just enough room for all of the females if they squeezed together, but Kelda spread her elbows, knowing Falda wouldn’t argue, and scratched her back against the crusty bark of the tree’s trunk.
“Why does she hunt?” Kelda repeated. “Does she think our males aren’t good enough?”
Caring for the children-of-the-group was much more important work. Each birthing season, when flowers washed the meadows and the herds migrated, Kelda had born a child of the group. The males had brought food. Her time was not wasted on any labor but raising the child of the group. But this year she was barren. She’d mated with Vorak relentlessly, and then some of the younger males, sure it was not her time to become an elder, to watch the children other females—like Lucy—birthed.
Kelda banged the sharp-edged cutter into the celery-like plant as bitterness welled in her chest. All of her children—Mir and Sweena and Dar—had become children of the group. She had none to nurture. She wished she grew a great red rump like a female chimp, to show her readiness to mate. Instead, she bloated like a dead fish and bled.
“Why Lucy? Why did I not have the baby stomach this year?”
The hammerstone crashed with such force that a stream of liquid squirted Kelda’s face, but she didn’t even blink. Falda and Lucy—both with baby-stomachs!
Part XXVI next week…
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Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum and two tech-ed lesson plan collections for K-sixth, creator of two technology training books for middle school, and six ebooks on technology in education for K-8. She is the author of Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman. She is webmaster for six blogs, anAmazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, Cisco guest blogger, IMS tech expert, and a bi-weekly contributor to Write Anything. Currently, she’s editing a thriller for her agent that should be out to publishers this summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.